childhood obesity

Should You Lose Weight With Your Kids?

Recently I saw an article online about whether or not parents should lose weight with their kids. Quick disclaimer: I don’t have kids yet but I think I can weigh in on this topic because of my own childhood and upbringing.

I think this is treading dangerous ground to be honest. My hope is that someday my kids grow up with a healthy body image. As a kid I did not have a healthy body image. At age 9 I thought I was “fat.” Sure that was mostly because of kids at school, which you can’t avoid. But looking back at photos, I was never fat until I was 17 years old and I started to gain weight.

250+ Pounds

Losing weight was somehow always on my brain, though. As a normal pre-teen I thought about dieting and losing weight. Why? Why was I so consumed?

I think kids are impressionable and they see what their parents do and they see what their friends/classmates do. My best friend in middle school, Kristy, was anorexic. I didn’t really understand what that meant as a 12 year old. She was one grade ahead of me. Her mom was always on a diet. So was Kristy. Kristy would bake these amazing desserts but she never ever ate any of them. I found that strange as a kid but I didn’t understand until later when my mom explained to me that Kristy was anorexic. Every winter she would be hospitalized with frostbite because she was so skinny. Yet she was always trying to lose more weight.

My mom was never really “on a diet.” But she was way into diet food. The fat-free fad, the low-fat, cardboard food that was sugar-free, salt-free, flavor-free was a staple in our house in my teens. My tactic for dealing with this? Bingeing at friend’s houses on “real” food (i.e. junk food). My mom made healthy after school snacks for my brother and I but of course as a kid, you want the pop-tart not the apple…

This is my background. This is my history as a kid with weight loss and gain. As someone who has tackled obesity and has maintained my 100+ pound loss for 3 years I see obesity everywhere. The kids I see are plus-sized. They have muffin tops, thick arms, and fat stomachs that are leading to diabetes (I know, I was there once). It makes me sad to see this epidemic spreading.

So I see this rampant epidemic as a horrifying thing BUT I am also weary of giving a whole generation of children eating disorders either. Is there a healthy balance? Is there a way to teach our kids to make healthy choices without shoving it down their throat and giving them a complex?

Causes of Childhood Obesity: 

  • Lack of physical activity or sedentary lifestyle
  • Eating more calories than he or she expends
  • Too much fat and sugar in the diet
  • Family genetics

When I was a kid I was forced to do sports and I HATED it. I hated team sports (still do) and it was a miserable thing for me. My family also went hiking and backpacking a lot. I grew to hate it because it wasn’t fun. It was a chore. My dad, the Marine Drill Sergeant barking orders as we marched through a forest, was not making it something fun. I stopped hiking for a long time. Now? I love it again!

My tactic for my future children is to SHOW them that exercise is fun. That eating healthy can be good and taste good. IF they want to do sports, they can. If they are like me and team sports is not what they are interested in, there are tons of alternatives for solo sports. Swimming is a good one. 🙂

  • Michael and I have talked at length about how we want to raise our future kids in terms of sports. Michael wants them to do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. At first I was hesitant. But with more thought I think martial arts are a good way for kids to learn strength, confidence, respect and will power. If we have a girl? That’s ok. She needs to know how to defend herself too.

  • I want to teach my kids that food is fuel for the body. It’s necessary and important and it makes a huge difference WHAT fuel you put into your body. This does not mean denying ourselves of all treats.
  • The Kinect video games are so much fun and a surprising workout! These types of new technologies would appeal to kids.
  • Exercising together is a good way to show them exercise can be fun. Running together, sprinting, hiking, going for bike rides, doing a kid’s 5k together, swimming, play frisbee in the park…the list is endless.


  • Sneak in fitness.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator and make a game out of it, make it a race. Park the car far away from the store and walk. Bike or walk to school every morning.
  • Don’t reward good behavior with treats. As a kid if I was “good” I got ice cream for dessert. I loved ice cream. 🙂

It seems like the list can be endless for fun ways to teach kids about exercise and food. I think the bottom line is to somehow help overweight kids lose weight without putting so much focus dieting and what the scale says.

QUESTION: If you are a parent, how do you feel about articles that suggest parents and kids lose weight together? What tactics do you use?

 

Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat

New Rule: always marinade a steak overnight. It makes it so soft and tender and the flavors were magnificent. The soy sauce and balsamic made it sweet but the seasoning and garlic made it savory. So good. The side dishes were steamed broccoli and baked sweet potato.

I did better with eating a proper serving size (despite what the poor photo may portray) and everything about the food combination was delicious.

After dinner it was time to take the kitties to the vet. They were due for their updated vaccines. It’s an ordeal. Maya (who hides under the bed at all times) acts like she’s being murdered when I take her to the vet.

Both kitties did well. Fat Kitty has lost a pound since his last annual visit. He’s 15.2 pounds. Maya is 9 pounds. The only thing Fat Kitty likes about going to the vet is time to explore all the nooks and crannies.

I was conflicted about which vaccines to get the kitties. They are 100% indoor cats except for the once a year I take them to the vet. It seems like a traumatizing experience for them and I asked the vet if it was necessary for them to continue with vaccines since they are indoors only. I read conflicting opinions on this subject and a lot of times I felt like the veterinarians are trying to up-sell me. Most of the time it’s the same feeling I get at an auto shop. Last night the vet I saw was honest and said most aren’t necessary for indoor cats but rabies and distemper were good ones. I got those taken care of and luckily they are both for 3 years. Trauma over.

Poor babies! Back home they bolted out of their carriers and hid. I started reading the new book I got at the library, ironically about vaccines. “The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science and Fear” by Seth Mnookin.

It’s a good book! I read 100 pages last night before bed because I was having a hard time putting the book down. It’s really interesting: “In 1998 Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist with a history of self-promotion published a paper with a shocking allegation: the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine might cause autism. The media seized hold of the story and launched one of the most devastating health scares ever.”  Wakefield was later revealed to be a profiteer in league with class-action lawyers, he would eventually lose his medical license but the damage was done:  celebrities like Oprah and Jenny McCarthy promoted it as medical fact, despite the fact that there was no link in childhood vaccines and autism. Yet the myth lives on…

The book is so interesting and he goes through history talking about the start of vaccinations, the trials and errors, Jonas Salk and more recent vaccine scandals. I’ve always been curious about diseases, Third-World countries devastated by things like Ebola and such. At one point in my life I tried to get a job at the CDC but really…who wants to live in Atlanta? I mean with all the zombies there taking over the city…

The Walking Dead

Killer at Large

Recently I tried to watch the documentary “Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Biggest Threat.” I wanted to like the documentary. Supersize me was a fun but shocking movie. I’ve heard good things about Food Inc (haven’t seen it yet). Killer at Large had to be good too.

I was really disappointed. Not in the content of the movie but in the quality of the production. I’ve tried three separate times now to finish watching the movie but the music that is played THE WHOLE TIME is overpowering and distracting to the point where it’s hard to hear what is being said by the experts! Poor editing! Who made this movie? I’ve given up trying to finish the DVD but the topic is still something really important to me.

We’re getting fatter and it’s killing us – worse yet, it’s killing our children.”

The most shocking scene was when an obese 12 year old girl got liposuction. I was horrified watching it. Where are her parents? Why aren’t they teaching her healthy eating habits, helping her learn how to eat RIGHT and why in god’s name are they giving in to whatever food whims their daughter wants? That’s just bad parenting. Parents: stop eating junk food, stop serving your kids junk food, teach them portion control and exercise more–as a family!

The other downside of the movie is how heavily they tried to tie in terrorism, 9/11 and all that stuff with obesity. I just don’t see the correlation.

The movie claims obesity (and its related diseases) cost taxpayers $117 billion dollars in 2002 and are estimated to kill more than 100,000 Americans a year. Where are we headed? A world where the majority of the population has to take insulin shots. A world where the life expectancy of children is lower than their parents’. That’s exactly where we’re headed, according to the documentary.

The movie  estimate that 44-45% percent of school-aged children will be insulin-dependent diabetics within 10 years at current rates and that we, as a nation, are 5 billion pounds overweight.

As for Brooke, the 12 year old that got liposuction? She gained back the 35 pounds of fat sucked out of her and went to Mexico with her parents to get another weight loss surgery.

Sad.

QUESTION: Have you seen the documentary? What did you think?